As we confront another lockdown, I am incredibly proud of how our community seamlessly transitioned to remote learning. While a very poor second to face-to-face learning, the Home Learning Program at Whitefriars is focussed on creating as great a positive impact on students as an on-site experience. We know face-to-face learning can never be replicated online, however, our staff are working incredibly hard to deliver continuity of learning and wellbeing. I spoke to a few Year 12 students during the week and when I asked them how they were doing, their response was, “Oh well, we’ve done it before.” I was incredibly buoyed by this response because, even though getting compliments from a teenage boy is a very challenging task, there was a certain degree of acceptance and optimism in what they were saying. In a recent letter to the Whitefriars community, our Principal, Mr Mark Murphy quoted the Serenity Prayer by American theologian, Reinhold Niebuhr:
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can,
and wisdom to know the difference.”
As a parent myself, I am acutely aware of the impact lockdown has on a young person’s learning and the dynamic in the home. The meltdowns, the constant nagging, the mess in the house and the stress this situation has created. I also appreciate the challenges technology brings when the world is confined to four walls. With the extraordinary time young people are spending online, much of which is the result of Home Learning, it is a perfect opportunity for parents to have a discussion with their sons to help them manage this in a safe, respectful, and responsible way. Demonising social media is not the answer, even though many of us wish it never existed. In recent articles published by Safe on Social, a leading cyber safety organisation, there are several parent tips to help young people remain safe online during.
- It is important to set some boundaries about the amount of time young people spend online – this should be negotiated with the young person.
- Encourage positive social values online – being kind, respectful and responsible.
- Know where to seek assistance if your child is experiencing any significant issues online esafety.gov.au
- Role model appropriate mobile phone use.
- Ban devices at the dinner table and especially in bedrooms overnight – but make sure, you explain why (Safe on Social, 20 July 2021, safeonsocial.com)
It is important to note that during a lockdown, technology is the only real way young people must connect with their peers so it’s more about safe and responsible use rather than time on screens.
It is during these challenging times we can focus on the principles which underpin The Resilience Project, the core of the Whitefriars College Wellbeing Program:
Gratitude – Paying attention to the things and moments we have right now, and not worrying about what we don’t have. We practice gratitude by noticing the positives that exist around us.
Empathy – Putting ourselves in the shoes of others so we feel what they are feeling. We practise empathy by being kind and compassionate towards other people.
Mindfulness – Our ability to be calm and in the present moment. We practise mindfulness by slowing down and concentrating on one thing at a time.
Emotional Literacy – Our ability to label our emotions, which helps us to manage them (soften negative emotions and find positive emotions). We practise emotional literacy by labelling our emotions as we experience them.
It is in reflecting on, and putting into practice, these key principles that can continue to navigate our way through these challenging times and my hope for us all is that we simply return better.
Doctor Michael Carr-Gregg, Child and Adolescent Psychologist, has prepared a short School TV presentation for parents which explores some of the mental health and behavioural consequences of COVD-19 and more importantly, he provides some practical advice for parents to help them support their sons and daughters through this very difficult time.
COVID Fatigue and Youth Mental Health
Deputy Principal – Students